The International Cycling Union (ICU) dropped a bombshell today: there will be no official winners of the Tour de France for the years 1998-2005 in the wake of cyclist Lance Armstrong’s disqualification for doping.
Following a board meeting in Geneva the ICU has decided to leave the records blank as opposed to awarding the victories to any runners up in the Tour de France. The group stated: “The Management Committee decided not to award victories to any other rider or upgrade other placings [sic] in any of the affected events … This might appear harsh for those who rode clean [but] they would understand there was little honor to be gained in reallocating places.”
In addition to being stripped of his Tour de France titles, the ICU also demanded that Armstrong and “all other affected riders” (presumably the members of Armstrong’s team who admitted to manipulating the doping tests) should return all prize money they have won in races between 1998 and 2005. For Armstrong this could be up to $4 million in earnings.
In the wake of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report which lead to Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from the sport for life, the ICU has ordered an outside investigation to examine claims made by the USADA that accuse the union of being complicit in Armstrong’s alleged history of cheating.
Known internationally as the Union Cycliste Internationale, ICU President Pat McQuaid said in his official statement: “UCI is determined to turn around this painful episode in the history of our sport … We will take whatever actions are deemed necessary by the independent commission and we will put cycling back on track.”
Appointees to the ICU’s independent investigation will be chosen in the next several weeks and will report their findings by June 2013.
In addition to the ICU stripping Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and electing not to declare an official winner, the union also chose to strip Armstrong of his 2001 Tour of Switzerland and 2002-2003 Dauphine Libere stage-race titles. There is still no word as to whether Armstrong will lose his Olympic time-trial bronze medal from the 2000 Olympic Games, as that is an issue to be determined by the International Olympic Committee.